After months of dithering and beating around the bush (yes, both), I FINALLY bit the bullet – and signed up for an acting class. Just a short course, four weeks or so but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
This isn’t a new thing for me, exactly: I have been passionate about acting for as long as I can remember. I was involved in amateur musical theatre stuff all the way through high school and half of my Joint Honours undergraduate degree was Drama.* For various reasons, though, I haven’t done a single acting-related thing since I graduated (the first time) and, somehow, that was three years ago now.
Moving to Paris marked the start of a renewed drive to find a theatre group to join, but unfortunately, my hours of trawling through Goodle didn’t yield much. Amateur troupe theatre doesn’t seem to be half as prevalent in Paris as it is in just about any UK city, and despite increasingly creative searches, the internet was giving me very little.
I did find a number of taught classes, though, and it was over these I spent several months doing the aforementioned dithering. I was mostly weighing up the various costs – most of these courses are bloody expensive – but I was also trying to decide whether or not a class experience, as opposed to a troupe one, would provide me with what I was looking for. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was probably actually better for my purposes, but it did take me a while to arrive there.
Anyway, last week, I finally did something instead of just thinking about doing something, the result being that I spent a few hours this Sunday afternoon at my first ever screen acting class. I was awfully nervous on the journey there, pesky butterflies relentlessly plaguing my stomach all the way from my front door to the rehearsal rooms in the 1st arrondissement. What if I had simply forgotten how to act? What if I had never been able to act in the first place? What if I made a complete fool of myself in front of all these new people? What if all these new people were really unpleasant, or just didn’t like me at all?
As is generally the way, all of the above worries turned out to be completely unfounded. For a start, as it transpired, it was only an introductory session, really – the proper acting starts next Sunday – but I settled into it within moments of edging tentatively into the bright, airy room in which we were meeting. It felt wonderful to be back in a room of like-minded people, discussing scripts and staging and so on, after all this time. We paired off to briefly run through one of the two scenes we would each be filming in the coming weeks, and you’ll be pleased to know that I had not, in fact, forgotten how to act. Like clambering back on a bike for the first time after years of leaving the poor thing languishing in a cobwebby shed, muscle-memory kicked in the moment I began, the intervening time immediately ceasing to have any significance.
It felt very nice just to meet some new people, too, actors or otherwise. Everyone seemed very friendly and I chatted easily with the people I’ve been paired with for my allocated scenes. I liked that it was such a small group – just 9 of us – and found myself uncharacteristically confident in contributing to the discussion and even exchanging a few quips across the room with my “classmates”. I also learned how to use some professional sound equipment, and a few filming tricks; the ‘behind-the-scenes’ stuff was never particularly my thing, but I found I was fascinated by what the teacher had to say, and demonstrate.
Two hours after hesitantly peeking around the rehearsal room door, I re-navigated the veritable labyrinth of winding staircases, dark corridors and dusty rooms to exit the creaky old building on the Rue Saint Roche. I emerged into the bright sunshine with a spring in my step and a broad smile on my face, satisfied that I had made the right decision with this class. And then made my way directly to the Jardin des Tuileries, (a stone’s throw from the rehearsal rooms) for ice cream and a sunny stroll in the park. Would’ve been rude not to.
*The other half was Classical Studies – Ancient Greece and Rome, for those who aren’t familiar with the subject. Not the most popular, or career-orientated, degree combination, but never mind. I’m employed, aren’t I?
Good for you! But one small question….are you acting in French or in English? I’ve often thought all that behind the scenes filming stuff would be very interesting to learn…
In English! I thought about getting involved in some French acting, but decided I probably wouldn’t do a French script (or myself!) justice, so limited my search to English-speaking groups and classes in the end 🙂
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How lovely – acting is the thing I miss most about my life in France. I was a very keen am-drammer in the UK, but out here in the sticks, there’s no French acting groups, never mind English! A couple of years back I saw a wonderful piece in Paris by a group of actors/singers of Cole Porter songs. They were outstanding!
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Yes, I’m not surprised, given how difficult it is to find much in the way of am-dram even in the capital!! Perhaps you should start your own little group – organize some play readings and see where it goes from there? (I say that like I’d ever do something so proactive myself… ha) I do need to start getting to see more theatre whilst I’m in Paris though, there’s certainly plenty of it available to watch!